A few weak hive questions
One of my hives is weak, and I've got some questions.
First, if the hive is weak (low numbers, more comb than they can cover) will that prevent the queen from laying? I just re-queened 4 hives including this one and while the others are fine, I can't find eggs in any of the combs (yes the new queen is still there).
Second, I did a search on combining and shaking, and if I understand correctly, it's OK to just put another frame or 2 directly into the weak hive (provided you don't transfer the other queen accidentally), and this won't cause a war or lead to the introduced bees killing the resident queen. Is this correct? Should I put the new frames in a nuc for a few days first so that they go queenless for a bit before introducing then to the weak hive?
Third, I've had (have?) wax moths before, no problem. They are usually small, silvery gray and about 1/4" long and don't get out of hand. In this weak hive however, I caught two very large robust gray moths, clearly not related to what I call a wax moth. They are big- like the kind you get at your porch light at night. What are these, does any one know? Are they harmful?
Any other suggestions for turning this weak hive around would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Low population and lack of other resources can inhibit a queen from laying, but if it is warm and there are forage resources available a healthy queen should be laying some.
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There are two species of wax moth, the greater and lesser. They are different size species, named accordingly.
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There are many different things you can do to "micro-manage" your weak hive back to strength, most depend on the resources you have available. Some of my favorite tactics are:
* Swap the place of the weak hive with a strong hive - in order for the weak hive to acquire the field force of the stronger hive.
* Swap nearly empty frames from the weak hive, with frames of emerging worker brood, combs of honey and/or pollen.
* Feed them - sugar syrup and/or pollen supplement/substitute, keeping the feed sources inside the hive and not accessible from outside the hive.
I agree with Joe. All of those methods can work.
A word of caution though. If you swap the weak and strong one, when the weak hive is in the strong one's position, all the field workers will return home to find a hive with no brood and a weak queen that is not their own. There is a very real chance in that case they will kill her.
My opinion is that I use swapping only when the two hive are both similar in that they have brood in all stage, and honey and pollen, but one is just a bit weaker than the other.
I'd swap frames first, feed (both of) them second, and swap positions third. Surely as you go down that path they'll get closer and closer with each action.
If you are careful to get a good balance of frames, and you are going to feed both, you can probably do all 3 actions at once. Then at least when the strong hives foragers return home to wrong hive it will still smell nice and homey, because some of the brood is their own. Then they are likely to mingle just fine.